The passage of time

Every time I remove the lint from the tumble dryer filter I think about entropy, the apparently inevitable gradual decline into disorder of all physical matter. All those clothes gradually losing their colour, their shape, their physical presence.

And we are the same. As I get older and muscle tone becomes harder to maintain, skin begins to sag, and bones begin to ache, I am ever more aware of my own entropic curve.

But in a funny way it feels OK. I have no desire to halt the passage of time, to freeze dry my life, to cling on to a previous me. I like the current me, for as long as it lasts.

It is our tendency to fight or deny entropy that causes much of our stress and angst. Fighting what is is never a good idea. Ageing is part of life. We will all eventually crumble into ashes and dust. Being at peace with this helps us to be here now, and make the most of the only time we have. This moment, in all its saggy perfection.

4 thoughts on “The passage of time

  1. For some as yet unknown reason, this particular universe started off with unusually low entropy, in an extremely high state of order. Our understanding is that entropy will always increase (in a closed system) because every “thing” in this universe scrambles about to find a low energy state which corresponds to a low state of order and higher entropy. Mathematically we describe this “disorder” based on the probability of a particular configuration occurring by chance.

    For example, if you threw a skip load of bricks off a cliff, by chance they might fall exactly into the shape of a house. Leave some wood and tiles in there and they might even form a roof. If you want even more improbable, top up the skip with furniture etc. That last little tweak will make very little difference statistically to the probability of those features occurring, it would still take several times the age of the universe just to make a neat pile even if you could perform that experiment a thousand times a second.

    So far so what? Well, we humans are undoubtedly a part of this universe. We live in it of course but we are also made out of it. Our behaviours which we assume are a “conscious decision” cannot escape from this environment. We can describe perfectly the behaviour of matter without the need to invent a new “force” or mechanism by which thought can manifest itself so we are left with the inevitable conclusion that our very thought processes are consistent with the universal desire to increase entropy by accelerating the dissipation of energy and creating chaos.

    Personally, I think that is entirely consistent with human behaviour as I see it…

    (Sorry if I missed “the point”, old age most certainly does not agree with me, nor am I even the slightest bit happy with it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree. We forget that we are made up of the same exploding star stuff as the rest of the universe, assume a degree of agency and control, then get bent out of shape when things don’t turn out as we expect!


  2. Puts me in mind of the John Denver lyrics from “Poems, Prayers & Promises”:

    “The changes somehow frighten me
    Still I have to smile
    It turns me on to think of growing old
    For though my life’s been good to me
    There’s still so much to do
    So many things my mind has never known”

    1970’s. In our youth-obsessed culture, how alien that one line sounds, “It turns me on to think of growing old.” And that’s a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting isn’t it how attitudes seem to change. Things are going to have to change again I reckon as people live longer and people have to stay in the workplace until later in life due to pensions not keeping up etc. No bad thing.


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